Mitt Romney has proven himself to be a politician without any apparent principled anchorage. He floats on the sea of politics like the proverbial cork – chaotically steered by the ever-changing winds and waves. In brief, he is the quintessential elitist establishmentarian.
Romney’s recent foray as editorialist for the Washington Post raises questions both as to his loyalty to the Republican Party and his savvy as a politician. Whatever his feelings about President Trump, it is difficult to understand why he would have chosen this moment to gratuitously attack the President – and in cahoots with one of the premier anti-Trump AND anti-Republican/anti-conservative news outlets in the country.
Of course, Romney has made himself the instant darling of the #NeverTrump Resistance Movement. The left-leaning press is now describing the former Massachusetts governor in the most heroic of terms. The same mavens of the media that are now canonizing the man are the very same that demonized him in his presidential campaign against Barack Obama. But for now, he is the man-of-the-moment for the elitist press – the useful … well … you know.
He did gain momentary favor with the elitist east coast media cabal when he verbalized his contempt for Trump during the presidential campaign. That could be forgiven since most Republicans opposed Trump’s nomination (this writer included) – a nomination he secured with a plurality of the vote in those early primaries largely due to the anti-Trump vote being divided among so many candidates. (That dynamic should cause some concern for Democrats, who are going into 2020 with more potential candidates than sopranos in the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.)
The same Mitt Romney who vilified Trump in the campaign was seen sucking up to the President over dinner when the position of Secretary of State was dangled over his head like a piñata. It seemed to me at the time that Trump was never serious about naming Romney his top diplomat but used the pretense to make his political critic pay humiliating and supplicative homage in public – and Romney complied.
Not much was seen or heard from Romney until he began pondering a race for the United States Senate from his Mormon religious capital of Utah. Needing Trump’s support – or at least avoiding the President’s opposition – Romney again refrained from criticism. In fact, he got downright complimentary of Trump. In return, Trump gave him a solid endorsement. How ironic that Romney would attack Trump on the eve of assuming the very office Trump helped him attain.
Now, just days before he is to be sworn in as the freshman senator from Utah, Romney has resorted again to the mouth-foaming pit bull. Several pundits had questioned Romney’s motivation – either implying or calling it out as an act of political stupidity. What is the gain for Romney?
The notoriety and the insincere pragmatic affection of the far left may have had an appeal to his establishment ego, but it does nothing for him as an important influence on the national scene or even in the solemn chamber of America’s House of Lords.
It is very arguable that Romney has diminished his influence and effectiveness by taking up the role of show-boating maverick. With the absence of Senators John McCain, Jeff Flake and Bob Corker, Romney will hold that title in solitary confinement.
His esteem among Democrats will only be expressed when he joins their ranks on specific votes. It will not be bipartisanship because he will never be able to recruit any Democrats to break ranks with their Party leadership to support Republican measures. The McCain, Flake, Corker history has proven that. If he thinks of himself as a bridge spanning the political divide by being an occasional apostate of the Republican agenda, he will soon discover it is a one-way trestle.
Romney’s problem is that his latest foray into pandering for attention exposes his double problems – double-dealing and double-crossing. He is the iconic pliable establishmentarian who can propose an Obamacare-like program in Massachusetts and declare the same type of program a national disaster when running for President. He can call out the President in the harshest of terms and then pander in the hope of getting a position in the administration. If Romney were footwear, he would be flip-flops.
Of course, the Post editorial brought an unavoidable response from Trump – but one that was surprisingly tempered. The President said:
“Here we go with Mitt Romney, but so fast! Question will be, is he a Flake? I hope not. Would much prefer that Mitt focus on Border Security and so many other things where he can be helpful. I won big, and he didn’t. He should be happy for all Republicans. Be a TEAM player & WIN!,”
This was one time when Trump seemed to understand that Romney was better left twisting in the wind with his self-inflicted wounds rather than to generate sympathy with one of the President’s more typical pugnacious retaliations. Trump allowed surrogates – like his 2020 campaign manager Brad Parscale — to strike the deeper dagger. Parscale tweeted:
The truth is @MittRomney lacked the ability to save this nation. @RealDonaldTrump has saved it. Jealously is a drink best served warm and Romney just proved it. So sad, I wish everyone had the courage @Real Dodnald Trump had.
With his Post editorial, Romney created a bit of a kerfuffle in his family. He was dressed down by Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel — or should I say, Ronna ROMNEY McDaniel, niece of the new senator from Utah. She chastised Uncle Mitt and suggested that he focus his criticism on the Democrats. Good advice, belatedly delivered.
And that brings up a good point. One would think that in the middle of the government shutdown – and his own stated support for the metaphoric WALL – Romney would have focused on the obstinance of the congressional Democrats. He would have used his personal inaugural address to speak to the bigger picture and the much, much more critical issues than the President’s personality. But Romney is a man full of himself (among other things), who attempts to secure the moral high ground by snipping from the political gutter on the other side of the battle line.
Like other publicity-seeking, tack-on-the-chair politicians, Romney will get noticed and the attention of the left-wing media, but he will have to find a way to restore his credibility among his colleagues in the Senate if he is to have any chance of being more than the attention-craving disruptive school boy that needs to stand in the corner and be quiet while the rest of the class carries on.
So, there ‘tis.